Monday, April 24, 2017

American Revolution Museum Opening

Back in February I was recruited to work as an 18th Century interpreter for a day, as part of the dedication of the newly-opened American Revolution Museum at Yorktown on April 1.

Myself and two of my former co-workers at the Colonial Williamsburg Costume Design Center, Nikki and Melissa, set up a work table where we demonstrated sewing and trim-making throughout the afternoon:

Nikki had samples of wool, cotton, silk, and linen for guests to examine while she hemmed strips of silk to make ribbon trim, and Melissa demonstrated the use of a box loom:

I worked on a kerchief, demonstrating a hand-rolled hem.

I had all of my period-appropriate sewing supplies handy in my housewife, most of which came from Burnley & Trowbridge.  Since I first blogged about the housewife, I have added the bone creaser, awl, and bodkin, plus a hand-marked measuring tape I made from linen tape - all from B&T - to my kit.  I got the scissors and embroidery snips last year at Fort Frederick Market Fair, and I already had the wood threadwinders (B&T), needle case (from CW), and the pincushion and lump of beeswax.

I also had some pockets and cravats that I had made, in case any visitors wanted to buy something. 
As we worked, we were occasionally serenaded by strolling musicians, such as the lovely Kaylan:

She played the Baroque flute, quite beautifully I might add.

Brian the Engineer came to visit partway through the afternoon, and as a visitor was able to actually experience the museum (whereas I was working and needed to stay in my designated area).  I gave him my camera and asked that he take pictures of the festivities.

I'll let Brian tell you about it in his own words:
The American Revolution Museum at Yorktown is an excellent resource for immersing yourself in the period of the American Revolution. Throughout the museum, children and adults can view real historical artifacts, including British and Continental swords, guns, and muskets. The main galleries are full of great interactive displays, including a copy of the constitution that you can read in parts. There’s plenty for the kids to do, as almost all the displays seem designed for young kids to enjoy as well as their parents.

Outside, the living history portion of the museum is equally engaging, with interpreters in full costume engaging with visitors and telling them about life in revolutionary times. One very pleasant surprise was the overt effort to include the stories of historically disenfranchised groups in the museum. I was excited to see a great number of books in the gift shop focused on the African American experience. All in all, a great trip and definitely worth a second visit!

On a break, I took a few pictures myself.  The basket-maker was right next to our tent, so I got to watch her work on this basket throughout the day:

Here it is almost finished!

Another musician and a dancer joined Kaylan at one point:

On our other side was a tailor, demonstrating his craft:

And beyond him was an apprentice tinsmith, who was quite fascinating to talk to:

She made all of these pieces:

After we wrapped up for the day, Nikki was kind enough to take some photos of me in my 18th Century maternity wear:

The only new pieces to my ensemble were the apron and kerchief.  I used the stomacher I made earlier this year to expand my jacket to fit over the baby bump:

A few more pictures of the day - these were taken by my friend Zöe:

Not sure what I was reacting to here, but it's a fun picture:

Someday soon I will have to go back to the museum and experience it for myself!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Francaise Dinner 2017

The Francaise Dinner this year was just as much fun as last year!  I had never been to Annapolis before, so I enjoyed the novelty of a very interesting and beautiful city.  Brian the Engineer and I drove up Friday night and stayed with a group at an Air B&B close to the venue.  This proved to be perfect because we could walk there once we were all ready!

I was, of course, sewing up until the last minute.  I think I left myself barely and hour and a half to get ready.  Here I am in my (still only halfway-bound) maternity stays:

That bump just keeps getting bigger!
Once I had gotten all of my petticoats on, I needed a bit of assistance with my hair.  Fortunately I had help/moral support from Jessica, Stephanie, and Gloria!  Here is what I ended up doing, after a bit of experimenting/trial & error:

Divide the hair front & back, wind the back hair into a high bun, attach hair rats
I think Brian enjoyed taking photos of this process.

Pull the front hair up and over the hair rats, secure to back hair bun
Comb/smooth front hair
Powder well

Have a friend help attach ornaments to cover the join (Thanks Gloria!)
Once my hair was done, I finished getting dressed.  Putting on my Francaise was such a happy moment for me!

Lacing the under-stomacher:

As it was a chilly March evening, I donned my pink mantle and muff:

And as a group we all walked over to O'Brien's Steakhouse.  On the way a pretty gray cat happened across our path, and naturally I attempted to make friends:

Photo courtesy of Maggie
The cat was not interested, however.  :p  Moving on...

We had the entire upstairs room to ourselves:

It was a lovely venue, although not the greatest for picture-taking.  The lights all had red shades, which gave everything quite a rosy-orange glow.  My photos ended up turning out better with the flash on, so that's mostly what you'll see in this post.

The raffle prize table:

So many awesome prizes!  
I donated the yellow brocade workbag, which I had a lot of fun making.  It has tassels - a new technique for me! - on the drawstrings.  Here is a better photo of it:  

Gloria was kind enough to take these photos of my gown for me:

This was before I turned the flash on, so you can see the interesting color effects of the red lampshades.
Those pleats make me so happy.  I am just in love with this gown!
Some candid shots of my tablemates:

Maggie and Doug
Kristin and Matt
Rebecca and Maggie
Delicious food!  I didn't take a picture of the salad, but it was quite good.  I opted for the steak option, although the crab cakes sounded delicious, too!  At the time when I made my reservation, I wasn't sure how well my pregnant stomach would be doing with seafood.  :p

More candid shots of the group at large:

Ashley, Stephanie, Michael, Kristin, Gloria, Rebecca
I love the back of Stephanie's ensemble!  That bow is everything.  
Judy, Maggie, Gloria
Jessica and Kat

Stephanie was showing Ashley something cool. 

Stephanie giving a toast to our hostesses...
...Jessica and Isabella:

They did a wonderful job organizing this event!  
Some final shots - Gloria with her awesome spangled fan:

Kristin with my workbag that she won in the raffle:

Ashley with her awesome mantle and muff matching her awesome gown:

And of course, the obligatory group photo:

Photo courtesy of Gloria
Much too soon it was time to leave.  It was starting to rain, so many of us turned our capes inside out so as not to ruin the pretty fabrics we had made them with!  I draped my train over my arm so it wouldn't drag on the wet ground.  Sadly there are no pictures of this, but I'm sure we were a spectacle!  :p

I'll end with a few photos of me taken by others:

Photo by Gloria
Did I mention my jewelry?  Brian bought the necklace, earrings, and bracelet set for me in Japan!  They are jade, and so lovely.
Photo by Gloria
Of course I must have a sonic screwdriver shot:

Photo by Maggie
I have a few more photos on Instagram under #francaisedinner2017.  Oh, and I won this awesome cap pattern in the raffle:

I can't wait to make it!